I think almost all writers experience writing anxiety as they face the blank page, but that’s not the kind of anxiety I’m talking about. I’m talking about ANXIETY, the not-quite panic attack, but still immobilizing feeling that takes over both mind and body. Triggered by some personal issues a couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Anxiety, which was a welcome diagnosis at the time, and I was able to cope with it through some lifestyle changes, therapy, and meditative techniques.
I have had a handle on it for a long time until the night before I was due to finish the first draft of my fantasy novella. I woke up in the middle of the night with the familiar panic attack symptoms. Fortunately, I was able to quell the attack before it became acute. But when I woke up in the morning, I had that undercurrent of nervousness that is hard to explain to anyone who has never experienced it before. It makes you want to just sit on the couch and drown out the world. When I got up to make breakfast, I even got the sour feeling in my cheeks like right before vomiting, but I didn’t feel nauseous. Basically, I was a mess.
The only thing that could have triggered it, in my opinion, was the impending completion of my first draft of my novella. I would have thought finishing the draft would evoke feelings of euphoria and excitement, not nervousness and a sense of dread. But I think it’s because I have been deriding myself for so long for starting and stopping so many things without finishing them that the fact that I was actually about to accomplish something I set out to do put my emotions in a spiritual clothing dryer.
It still doesn’t make sense to me, but all I know is, that as I sat down to finish those last 2,500 words, my anxiety level declined. And when I finished the first draft later that day, I felt much better. I did celebrate somewhat, but then that was quickly replaced by all these ideas that came flooding in for the rewrite. Such is the writer’s life. A work is never done until it’s out the door.